Postcard from Rome, Italy: Revving up the classics

People increasingly need decoration, because it has the same function as music: it seems not to be really necessary but it is. It’s food for our souls.

Barnaba Fornasetti

Classical sculpture. Architecture from the Renaissance. On the street corners. In the plazas. By the metro stations. Artistic creations from throughout the ages are woven into a Roman’s everyday life.

The classics cannot be avoided in this city. So why isolate statues in stagnant museum halls as though they are deceased gods with no relevance to the culture of today?

Several current exhibitions in Rome buck the traditional staid curatorial approach to displaying the art of the past. Among these is “Citazioni Pratiche (Practical Quotes): Fornasetti Palazzo Altemps” at Palazzo Altemps, part of Museo Nazionale Romano.

Curated by Barnaba Fronasetti of Atelier Fornasetti and Valeria Manzi, the exhibit setting up playful interaction between the ancient and contemporary is mounted in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of the museum and 70 years of the studio’s designs. Both are treated with respect in the spacious Renaissance palace, with the classical impact and role in modern Italian design repeatedly saluted.

The palace housing the collection originally belonged to Girolamo Riario (1443-1488), a Captain General of the church under his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV (1414-1484). Riario played an active role in the 1478 Pazzi Conspiracy against the Medici family, an operation only partially successful: Lorenzo de Medici (1449-1492) survived the plot.

Machiavelli had yet to pen his advice:

If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513

Several of the participants in the scheme were strung up above the walls of Florence by Medici allies, but Pope Sixtus IV rewarded his nephew Riario with a conciliation prize, making him Count of Forli. Accumulating an increasing number of enemies through years of intrigue and involvement in papal politics, Riario later was assassinated and thrown into the piazza below his quarters.

The ultimate Medici revenge might have been the 1568 purchase of the palazzo by the German-born Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps (1533-1595). Altemps’ rise to power in the church was facilitated by his uncle, Pope Pius IV (1499-1565), whose civilian name was Giovanni di Bicci de Medici. Possibly Altemps was responsible for the addition of capricious prancing rams in the decorative trim throughout the palazzo.

And, yes, by the way, the featured Fender takes the man and guitar harem metaphor way too literally.

Postcard from Mexico City: Shimmering with colorful experiences

So quick and inexpensive to reach Mexico City by air. Don’t know why we waited so long to return. Tossing out a few final shots from our stay.

And now, an excuse for the next leap around the globe:

The easier an experience, or the more entrenched, or the more familiar, the fainter our sensation of it becomes…. Complexities wane, miracles become unremarkable, and if we’re not careful, pretty soon we’re gazing out at our lives as if through a burlap sack….

I try to force my eye to slow down. A good journal entry – like a good song, or sketch, or photograph – ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.

Leave home, leave, the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience – buying breakfast, eating vegetables, even saying hello – become new all over again.

Anthony Doerr, Four Seasons in Rome

My posts are never as elevated as Doerr’s journals, but there are an unlimited number of pots of gold waiting to be discovered around the globe. Mining springtime in Rome now.

Postcard from Mexico City: A peephole glance at more of her museums

Catholics in Mexico call on Baby Jesus to fulfill many roles, so it should come as no surprise that Museo del Objeto del Objeto, or Museum of the Purpose of the Object, has a Nino de Futball in its collection. We were sad to see soccer memorabilia the focus of its exhibition during our stay, but it certainly was popular amongst chilango families.

This post represents a museum wrap-up from our stay, a rather diverse hodgepodge of snapshots shortchanging the richness of the displays.

The diversity and depth of collections exhibited throughout Mexico City are amazing, yet the architecture of many of the buildings housing them is so stunning it sometimes outshines them.